AKC "Renegade Striker"
My first "service dog" partner, American Kennel Club "Renegade Stricker" (aka "Strickey") spent most of his 11 years keeping me balanced and on my feet. He towed me here, there, and back again, for I am a D.A.V. (Disabled American Veteran--Navy) with one badly damaged leg. Striker kept me walking, off my cane or crutches, and out of a wheelchair. He was one very special "good boy!" Dedicated Service Dog, protective Guard Dog, and loyal Family Dog, Striker stood up to his breeding and surpassed it. Purchased from a breeder who sold only all black shepherds to the Marine Corps (black dogs are harder to see at night), this beautiful canine was a whopping 110 pounds of muscle and heart who worked hard, played hard, and would die to protect his family. Striker exemplified all the best qualities of the highly intelliegent German Shepherd breed with the ability to learn quickly and retain the knowledge, plus the valuable ability to assess a disabled partner's situation (my balance problems) and act on it instinctively without my constant commands. If I leaned left, he pushed me right. If I leaned right, he pulled me left. Forward or backward leaning, he blocked me in front or in back. I never fell once, thanks to my canine's quick instincts.
On August 2nd, 2005, this beloved dog left his earthly family for the Creator’s Heavenly Garden. Before his death, we acquired a new dog. Strikey spent his last summer training his replacement for me, AKC German shepherd Queen of Sheba, by example. She mirrored his every move. And she was disiplined at home by him. If she tried to jump on me while playing, which would make me lose my balance, he disciplined her. If she barked at home for what he thought was no good reason, he took her to task. If she was afraid to do stairs, he showed her the way by going first. Graduation for Sheba and retirement for Striker was a big transition for all three of us. Striker stayed home during Sheba's first "solo." It was just me and her for a three day weekend in a Reno hotel, and she was ready for her final test. In a casino amidst partiers, gamblers, slot machine noise, packed elevators, & her very first heavy rainstorm with booming thunder, this new K-9 partner did Striker proud. Because of Striker's meticulous training (I had to do very little) Sheba became Registered Calif. Service Dog #50. (Not required by law, but it makes things smoother in public sometimes.) Striker had taught our newbie Sheba to shine. The student became almost, but not ever his equal. (Yes, she had the impressive intelligence of her breed, but Striker's razor sharp ability to problem solve without my guidance was phenomenal.) Getting close to his 12th birthday, Striker continued to stay home, playing with "his kids," my two children, and protectecting both them and the house.
Time passed, his all black nose fur turned white, and he slowed down more and more. He even refused to play with his favorite toy. The vet told us his kidneys were failing due to old age. We knew it was time for him to cross the rainbow bridge. On that day, my husband took him out to the open land behind our house. He slowly ambled in the citrus groves one last time then did his signature daily routine. He carried a fallen grapefruit for a game of "fetch it" with my husband. Then Striker told us he was ready, and it was time to say good-bye. Strikey fell asleep in my lap under California's sunny skies, his chin resting lightly on the palms of his favorite vet, my arms tightly around him as he crossed the "Rainbow Bridge." After 11 years, with one last sigh, he left his worn, aged body behind. He deserved a peaceful journey to Heaven. He died like he lived, with heart, soul, loyalty, courage, and love. Most of all, love. I know he's chewing a celestial bone while he waits for those he loved to join him some day. Renegade Striker wasn't just a dog. He was my blessing.
On this web site, you will find free stories with animal rescue links. In memory of Striker, Registered Calif. Service Dog #21, and Sheba, #50, please remember those dogs still alive and in need. Thank-you for letting me share their stories.
AKC "QUEEN OF SHEBA" - Picture on top right with author
Queen of Sheba was another one of our rescues. I was at Costal German Shepherd Rescue at a shopping area doing a booksigning to help support the cause. A man and woman showed up with one-year old Sheba (our new name for her), a very underweight, dirty, scarred, parasite-ridden dog. They wanted to surrender her, AKC papers and all. The shelter volunteer told them the shelter was full, and they would have to wait two weeks until space was available. The woman sneered, yes, sneered out, "Fine. Then I'll just turn her loose in the parking lot." My husband immediately took the leash and said, "We'll take her." The volunteer said gratefully, "Oh, so you'll foster her for us?" Roger replied, "No, she's ours." It was strange, because we'd just lost a black German Shepherd, Striker, and here another black shepherd fell into our laps. We hadn't even been looking! We named her and promised her the royal treatment the rest of her life.
The A.D.A. - AMERICANS WITH DISABILITY ACT
IN THE YEAR 2020, THE U.S. UPDATED THEIR DEFINITION OF "HELPER" DOGS "
1) A “service animal” is one that is specifically trained to assist just one person in a physical capacity, and by law IS allowed public access with no certification, including no-pet housing. These are dogs or miniature horses only. Capuchin monkeys no longer fit this category.
2) An “emotional support animal” (ESA) has the primary function of assisting one person with emotional support through companionship, and by law has limits on public access. It must have medical proof of its function but IS allowed in no-pet housing.
3) A “therapy dog” is one that usually provides comfort to multiple people such as those in hospitals, nursing homes, or disaster areas. The dog must have certification, and by law has limits on public access. No exception is made for no-pet housing.
However, despite the ADA definitions --the general public usually treats “emotional support animals” and “therapy dogs” as “service dogs,” who do have public access. But legal exceptions are present and can be exercised at any time, especially to weed out “fake” ESAs (personal pets), an offense punishable by law.
Our dogs have been our guardian angels and protection from intruders and companions for the lonely. Yes, canines provide physical, mental, & emotional support. Dogs and other ESAs (Emotional Support Animals) can be full-time companons for those suffering from emotional distress. Canines can PULL wheelchairs, SEE for the blind, and HEAR for hearing impaired. They also SMELL cancer, SMELL diabetic sugar levels, & DETECT epiletic seizures in ADVANCE. Service dogs can provide MOBILITY for semi-ambulatory, or "walking disabled" such as myself. Animals can compensate for, and aid in balance, impetus [getting started], stability, and speed. Therapy dogs can help large groups of people to comfort those who have been stressed by aging, mental trauma, or disasters
Or...they can be your beloved pet who loyaly & lovingly enrich your life! All animals are family members, for all are truly God's gifts to the disabled & healthy alike. IF ONLY THEY COULD STAY AT OUR SIDES FOREVER...
YOUR LOCAL SHELTER
WILL HAPPILY MATCH UP YOUR CHILD WITH A NEW FRIEND
TO TAKE HOME!
FOR FREE HELP re Discrimination SEE your local REP & SENATOR, the VA & the ACLU
If you have further questions about the ADA, you may call:
the U.S. Department of Justice Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TTY).
SAN DIEGO CHAPTER OF CCI - CLICK BELOW
CANINE COMPANIONS FOR INDEPENDENCE
AUTHOR'S BOOKS - CLICK BELOW